CFP: Historicising the Historical Novel (12/1/05; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Hopkins, Chris
contact email: 

CFP Historicising the Historical Novel
(for the refereed e-journal Working Papers on the Web:

'The term "historical novel" awakens some awkward connotations nowadays. We think of the Count of Monte Cristo, of Ben-Hur, of
various historical films; we picture adventure, intrigue, costumes, heavy swaths of bright colors, overly theatrical language, a
mixture of politics and love, and the reduction of events to the level of petty individual emotions. . . For my part, I admit to
loving historical novels with a passion. I do understand the prejudice against this form of literature, but it is a prejudice' -
from Leon Feuchtwanger's 'The Purpose of the Historical Novel', 1935 (this translation from the German by John Ahouse).

'Historical fiction as a genre often seems to be the product of bad faith or guilty conscience, and the often formidable energies
of the genre spring partly from an attempt to rationalise its own apparent sins out of existence. A standing offense against both
the autonomy of aesthetic form and the scientific integrity of facts, historical fiction is a perennial embarrassment liable to
generate many forms of critical inquiry - 'Historical Novel' article by Richard Maxwell from Encyclopaedia of the Novel (Fitzroy
Dearborn, London, 1998).

The historical novel has, at various time and in different cultures and contexts been seen as a classic European form, as a
world-genre, as middlebrow distraction, as a form with the potential for political critique, as a way of genuinely understanding
the past, as a dangerous falsifier of national identities, and as an important part of post-modern writing in the shape of
'historiographical metafiction'. Essays are invited which historicise the historical novel or discuss its relation to history, in
any of its varieties.

The 'Historicising the Historical Novel' issue of Working Papers on the Web is planned for publication in March 2006. Abstracts
of 400 words should be sent via e-mail to the editor Professor Chris Hopkins ( <
> ) by June 1st 2005. Completed essays of 5-7000 words (using MLA style) will be due by 1 December 2005.

Chris Hopkins
Professor of English Studies
Head of Humanities Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University
Rm 12 Montgomery House
Collegiate Campus
Phone: 0114 225 4364
E mail:

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Received on Thu Mar 10 2005 - 15:27:11 EST